The circumstances surrounding the death of Gloria Satterfield – the longtime domestic worker for the family of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh – have long been up for debate.
Satterfield passed away at Trident Medical Center in North Charleston, South Carolina on February 26, 2018 – more than three weeks after allegedly tripping and falling off the front porch of the Murdaugh family’s now-infamous hunting property, known locally as Moselle.
Paul Murdaugh and his mother, Maggie Murdaugh, were both present at Moselle when Satterfield was allegedly tripped by the family’s dogs, causing her to fall backward onto the brick stairs in front of the main house shortly after 9:15 a.m. EST on the morning of Friday, February 2, 2018.
A little more than three years later, both Paul and Maggie were savagely murdered at the dog kennels on the Moselle property. Alex Murdaugh has since been convicted of their murders and sentenced to life in prison. He is currently facing more than 100 other criminal charges – including a dozen financial charges tied to Satterfield’s death.
Murdaugh told insurance investigators the dogs caused Satterfield’s fall – but with no other statements to support this claim, many doubted his account. What happened next is not in dispute. Murdaugh defrauded two insurance companies of $4.3 million in claims related to Satterfield’s death.
One of those insurance companies – Nautilus – filed a complaint in U.S. District Court on April 22, 2022 claiming Murdaugh’s attorneys, state senator Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, were preventing it from cooperating with a federal state grand jury subpoena related to the Satterfield case.
At the time of Gloria Satterfield’s fall, Alex Murdaugh had insurance policies with Lloyd’s of London – which held his “underlying insurance” policy for $505,000 – and Nautilus, which held his “extra” or “umbrella” policy for $5 million. In order for the umbrella policy to take effect, every penny of the underlying policy had to be paid, or a promise of payment had to be made.
In other words, it was critical for Murdaugh to successfully prove he was at fault in Satterfield’s death. According to a report filed in relation to this complaint from attorney Scott Wallinger – who was hired by Lloyds of London to represent Murdaugh – Satterfield sustained a right-sided head laceration, a right-sided subdural hematoma, a traumatic brain injury, multiple left-side posterior rib fractures, a partially collapsed lung and a pulmonary contusion.
The report also detailed Murdaugh’s account of what happened that day, stating he was the only person who heard Gloria say she had been tripped by the dogs. Murdaugh also made it a point to say Gloria was not at Moselle working that day – but instead had stopped by the property that morning to pick up a check.
Both the cause of Satterfield’s fall, and her purpose for being at Moselle, were critical to his story. Had she fallen due to clumsiness or an illness, there would not have been a payout on the claim because Murdaugh wouldn’t have been negligent. And if she had come to Moselle to perform duties related to her job, her fall would have resulted in a worker’s compensation claim.
(Click to view)
In a response filed in U.S. district court on May 1, 2023, Murdaugh formally – and belatedly – corrected the record regarding the day Satterfield died.
“No dogs were involved in the fall of Gloria Satterfield on February 2, 2018,” the new filing noted. “(Murdaugh) invented Ms. Satterfield’s purported statement that dogs caused her fall to force his insurers to make a settlement payment, and he stated that she was not on the property to perform work.”
Murdaugh’s latest account not only leaves many wondering what happens next in this case – but perhaps more importantly – raises questions regarding his sudden honesty.
In his response, Murdaugh admits a number of facts that have long been in question. Among them:
- He recommended Cory Fleming – a suspended attorney and alleged co-conspirator in the scheme to steal the proceeds of the Satterfield settlement – to server as counsel for the Satterfield family.
- He asked Brian Harriott and Tony Satterfield to renounce their respective rights to be personal representative of the estate and asked Chad Westendorf to serve as the personal representative of the estate. (Though he claims beyond that, he does not recall the mechanics of how the necessary probate forms were filed over five years ago and therefore otherwise denies the allegations.)
- He was not a “bona fide insured seeking coverage because he invented the critical facts giving rise to a purported liability covered by Nautilus’s insurance policy.”
- He demanded Nautilus pay its full policy limits and that he threatened to admit liability at trial. Though he states “he does not know what is meant by the allegation that he was ‘abusive toward the Nautilus adjuster’ and therefore denies that allegation.”
- He states Cory Fleming, Moss & Kuhn, P.A., Chad Westendorf, and Palmetto State Bank did not conspire or collude with him to cause Nautilus to pay a fraudulent claim.
According to Murdaugh’s response, the Satterfield family and their attorneys – Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter – have recovered over $7.5 million to date through a civil lawsuit filed in Hampton County based on allegations that Murdaugh converted payments that should have been made to the Satterfield estate.
“If Nautilus never should have made any payment to the Satterfield estate and only attempted to do so because it was the victim of fraud, then the parties in possession of a recovery of the money allegedly stolen from Nautilus are necessary parties to an action by Nautilus for recovery of that money because (a) the ‘court cannot accord complete relief among [the] existing parties’ in their absence, and (b) those persons and entities ‘claim an interest relating to the subject of this action’ and their absence will ‘leave [existing parties] subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations because of that interest,” the filing noted.
(Click to view)
Since none of the $7.5 million received by the Satterfield family or their attorneys came from Nautilus, it is unclear what the admission could mean for the her family or for Bland and Richter. The money recovered came from parties other than Nautilus for breaches of its duties to Satterfield family. The $4.3 million settlement paid by Nautilus for the death of Gloria Satterfield was stolen by Murdaugh – who admitted to this theft during his murder trial – and never received by her family.
Whatever happens with the money, the criminal cases tied to this fleecing are moving forward. Corey Fleming’s trial is scheduled to begin on September 11, 2023 per the order of S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman during a recent status conference. Murdaugh’s trial on the Satterfield charges could be held the following month.
While Murdaugh is hardly a trustworthy actor on this – or any other issue – it is worth noting his revised narrative is more consistent with initial accounts from the scene.
“My housekeeper has fallen and her head is bleeding,” Maggie Murdaugh told a Colleton County dispatcher on the 9-1-1 call she placed the morning of February 2, 2018 . “I cannot get her up.”
“She fell going up the steps – the brick steps,” Maggie Murdaugh added.
Neither Paul nor Maggie Murdaugh made any reference to Satterfield’s fall being caused by family dogs. Also, unlike Alex Murdaugh’s notorious 9-1-1 call following the double homicide, no dogs can be heard barking or whimpering in the background.
Bland was indignant on social media in response to the filing.
“This is nothing but noise,” he tweeted. “Just gutless people trying to continue to victimize Gloria’s siblings and children.”
“Liar liar Alex now says he allegedly made up the story that Gloria Satterfield didn’t fall down (the) Moselle stairs by his dogs,” Bland added. “Since when did Alex become the modicum of honesty and credibility?”
The problem? In the same breath Bland is relying on – and rebuking – Alex Murdaugh’s credibility.
“Are we supposed to believe the only time Alex told the truth (was) when he said Paul and Maggie wandered off and he was alone with Gloria and she drifted in and out of consciousness and said ‘it was the dogs they tripped me?’” one skeptic noted in a response the attorney on social media.
(Via: U.S. District Court)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Jenn Wood is the director of research at FITSNews. She is also a producer on our Cheer Incorporated podcast and our resident expert on the ‘Murdaugh Murders‘ crime and corruption saga. Wood is a wife and mother of two residing in Louisiana, but she will be in the Palmetto State for the duration of the upcoming double homicide trial. Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at [email protected].
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Murdaugh has no problem further victimizing already victimized people. The only real justice for the people of South Carolina is to release Murdaugh into the prison population and let them administer “prison justice.”
That several unruly dogs attempting to push their way into a house at the top of some concrete stairs can cause a potentially serious fall to the person opening the door from the top step…..is a real thing. Happened to me.
Re: Gloria Satterfield’s Death. There are (theoretically) at least two simultaneous investigations on-going: (1) Investigation of Insurance Fraud; and (2) Investigation of Gloria’s death. The “insurance fraud” case is being widely covered by media. The “death” investigation by SLED seems to have dropped through the cracks. Has SLED dropped the investigation? If so, why … when it seems to me that almost everything that happened on the day of Gloria’s “fall” corresponds perfectly with what happened on day of Paul and Maggie’s murders. (1) Lured to Moselle; (2) Murder takes place; (3) Alex has bs excuse that he wasn’t there, he was “at office”, he rushed back to Moselle where Gloria told him “the dogs tripped her” (now revealed as total lie, as I suspect his going to the office and leaving Moselle at all that morning is a lie.), etc., etc., etc. Eric Bland and others have devoted a large part of their media lives to claiming that there were “no crimes committed” with respect to Gloria’s “fall”. Have they succeeded in helping Alex get away with murder? PLEASE do not let the investigation of her “murder” (my word) fall by the wayside. I understand that people do not want the Satterfield boys to lose any of their settlement funds. But at the same time, just because Alex is theoretically locked up for life doesn’t mean he should get away with murder. At the very least, SLED should have obtained Alex’s GPS and phone records from day of Gloria’s “fall”. That information would immediately reveal if he was telling the truth about “going to the office and the timeline of everything he did that morning and later in the day to obstruct the investigation. If SLED has not requested and by now received that information, they have basically given up on the investigation. PLEASE help, as it seems to me that Alex is on the verge of getting away with at least one murder … and as we know from the recent release of Jeroid Price, justice can easily be distorted with the current situation in South Carolina. In other words, the more murder convictions the better, if the goal is to keep Alex locked up for life, which is certainly a worthy one.
Bland is an attorney…. and apparently has no idea what ‘modicum’ means.